Documentary & Biography TV Shows

The purpose of a TV documentary, as is probably obvious from the genre's name, is to document something. Documentaries are non-fiction programs that examine a subject closely, and the intent of the program may be broadly educational, or it may attempt to make a cultural or political point. Although the earliest TV programming was focused on entertainment, documentaries quickly became a significant part of TV programming overall, and now some of the most popular TV networks concentrate almost exclusively on non-fiction programs.

Documentary TV programming comes in a number of forms. Stand-alone documentary films explore one subject in depth in a single film or in a short series of episodes, while documentary series often look at a different subject in each episode, with no direct connection between the subjects from episode to episode. News-magazine-style shows may group multiple segments within each episode; the segments typically focus on unrelated subjects. Other types of documentary series-crime and paranormal series are currently popular-explore a different specific subject in each episode, but all of the subjects conform to the overall theme of the series.

Biography is a sub-genre of documentary programming that tells the story of a particular individual. Historical figures, political leaders, entertainers, sports figures and other celebrities are, of course, the most popular subjects of TV biographies, and biographical documentaries are consistently popular with TV viewers. In recent years, the series "Biography" was one of the most successful productions on the A&E cable network-so much so that the network spun the series off into its own channel, The Biography Channel, which debuted in 1999.

Much of the programming that fits into the reality TV genre could also fit fairly comfortably into the documentary genre. Reality series that follow characters as they engage in specific occupations or live in unusual contexts educate viewers about those occupations and lifestyles at the same time that they entertain-although the main goal of these series is entertainment, and factual accuracy may suffer as a consequence.

Surviving R. Kelly
Surviving R. Kelly
Cartel Crew
Cartel Crew
The New Edition Story
The New Edition Story
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Unexpected
Unexpected
The Grand Tour
The Grand Tour
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
30 For 30
30 For 30
Snapped
Snapped
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Intervention
Intervention
20/20
20/20
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Dateline
Dateline
ReMastered
ReMastered
Gold Rush: White Water
Gold Rush: White Water
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
No One Saw a Thing
No One Saw a Thing
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of...
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of...
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Below Deck Mediterranean
Below Deck Mediterranean
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
Deadly Sins
Deadly Sins
Garth Brooks: The Road I'm On
Garth Brooks: The Road I'm On
I Survived
I Survived
American Gangster
American Gangster
90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days
90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days
WWE The Attitude Era
WWE The Attitude Era
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Kings of Pain
Kings of Pain
How It's Made
How It's Made
Kindred Spirits
Kindred Spirits
See No Evil
See No Evil
Diesel Brothers
Diesel Brothers
Ghost Adventures: Serial Killer Spirits
Ghost Adventures: Serial Killer Spirits
Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal
Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal
Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
River Monsters
River Monsters
Lockup
Lockup
Frontline
Frontline
Hustle & Soul
Hustle & Soul
Body Cam
Body Cam
Naked and Afraid: Uncensored
Naked and Afraid: Uncensored
Taboo
Taboo
Disappeared
Disappeared
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Amanda to the Rescue
Amanda to the Rescue
Building Alaska
Building Alaska
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Girls Incarcerated
Girls Incarcerated
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
The Devil You Know
The Devil You Know
Survivorman
Survivorman
Like a Boss
Like a Boss
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
Sensing Murder
Sensing Murder
Slutever
Slutever
Hunting Hitler
Hunting Hitler
Drain the Oceans
Drain the Oceans
Finding Escobar's Millions
Finding Escobar's Millions
Ghost Nation
Ghost Nation
Black Love
Black Love
35 Up
35 Up
When Sharks Attack
When Sharks Attack
Shark Week
Shark Week
Horror at the Cecil Hotel
Horror at the Cecil Hotel
Paranormal 911
Paranormal 911
Harley and the Davidsons
Harley and the Davidsons
All or Nothing: Manchester City
All or Nothing: Manchester City
Good Eats
Good Eats
Doomsday Preppers
Doomsday Preppers
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Nellyville
Nellyville
E! True Hollywood Story
E! True Hollywood Story
Shattered
Shattered
Dynasties
Dynasties
This is Life with Lisa Ling
This is Life with Lisa Ling
Nightline
Nightline
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
Evil Genius
Evil Genius
Caught on Camera
Caught on Camera
Behind Bars: Rookie Year
Behind Bars: Rookie Year
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Jeremy Wade's Dark Waters
Jeremy Wade's Dark Waters
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men
Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men
Secrets
Secrets
The Curse of Civil War Gold
The Curse of Civil War Gold
Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks
Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks
Dogfights
Dogfights